Top-100 small forward Abu Kigab named Illinois in his top six last week, and the 2017 target has locked in an official visit to Champaign for Sept. 16-18.
California, Tennessee, Oregon, UCLA and USC joined the Illini on the list. Kigab also has official visits scheduled to Oregon (Sept. 10) and Cal (Oct. 7).
He talked to IlliniInquirer.com about what made those programs stand out in his recruitment.
"When it came to my top six schools, it was about the best fit," Kigab said. "I felt all those schools were good fits for me. Now, I've got to find out which one is the best for me."
Kigab is ranked No. 90 overall in the Scout.com 2017 class rankings. The 6-foot-6 wing is long, athletic and versatile. His toughness, competitiveness, ability to defend and make plays in a variety of ways make him a high priority for Illinois.
"I'm a competitive player and I think that rubs off on my teammates," Kigab said. "I love to compete and elevate my team. I don't take any possessions off."
What is Kigab prioritizing when it comes to choosing a school and a program?
"Definitely the coaching staff, first of all. I want to be around a great coaching staff," he said. "I want to be in a good place and a good school with good academics. So those are pretty much the three things I'm looking for when I'm picking a school."
As for a fit on the basketball court, Kigab wants to find a place where he can make contributions from Day One.
"I just want to go in there and make an impact right away. So I'm gonna go to a school where they need a player like me," he said. "So I just want to go in my first year and make an impact, and hopefully help my team win a championship."
Illini assistant coach Dustin Ford tracked Kigab on the circuit the last two years, and Illinois extended an offer his way in June 2015. Since then, Ford has made big strides with developing a relationship and selling what Illinois has to offer.
"I like everything about Illinois," Kigab said. "Great staff, great basketball style, very unique. Not many teams play like them. They're really different from the rest of the pack, and you can tell when you watch them on TV. The relationship with me and the coaches is great. I talk to Coach Dustin every single day."
Kigab added that the sell to help replace Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Malcolm Hill is very attractive to him. He also likes the possibility of playing on the Big Ten stage.
"The Big Ten is a great conference," Kigab said. "If I go to Illinois, playing in the Big Ten will be something I'll really be looking forward to."
Kigab averaged 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game with the Oakland Soldiers during the EYBL regular season.
"The AAU season wasn't my best, in my opinion, because I feel like I can play a lot better," he said. "I need to really work on my jump shot. For the next month, all I'll be doing is working on my jumper."
During the high school season, Kigab played at Prolific Prep (Calf.) with McDonald's All-American Josh Jackson.
"It was a great experience. I think the one thing I got from it was being competitive every single possession," he said. "All the guys at Prolific are really good players, so you got to bring it every single practice."
The Illini are looking to add a high-impact wing to what they already have in the 2017 class. Jordan Goodwin and Kris Wilkes are right at the top of the wish list, but Kigab is a high priority as well.
Illinois will have to battle against a strong sell by Oregon, though. The Ducks have a reputation for landing Canadian products like Kigab, and they will get the first crack at him on the official visit slate.
"They're definitely a great school. They also play a unique style: four-out, one-in. They've got guys at the five that can step out and shoot threes," Kigab said. "Their playing style is something definitely I want to be a part of. It's just a great place to be."
Abu Kigab has a long set of arms, a wide base and is a quality athlete that impacts the game with his versatility. Kigab is a tough, hard-nosed wing that is capable of defending multiple positions. Kigab is also a quality passer with good vision. Kigab isn't as much of a threat from three at this stage, so the majority of his scoring is done by attacking the rim. He plays well through contact and is a quality finisher around the basket. Kigab is also a good rebounder, especially for a wing. To go with long-range shooting, ball handling is another area for improvement.